What It’s Really Like To Be Gluten-Free
-Name: Sandra S.
-Current city you live in: Long Beach
-Occupation: Elementary School Teacher
-What condition/ailment are you living with?
-Can you give us a little background on the condition? What are the symptoms?
Celiac Disease is an immune disorder that is triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat. If I eat gluten I get horrible stomach pains, I bloat, and I get really bad diarrhea. It is hard for me to put on weight as well.
-When were you diagnosed?
When I was 2 years old.
-Were you already experiencing symptoms when you were diagnosed?
Yes, I had horrible diarrhea as a baby and did not put on any weight.
-How does this condition affect your life?
It’s extremely challenging, because I can’t have any gluten and I can’t even have any food that was prepared on a surface that had gluten on it without having a reaction. It’s almost impossible to go to restaurants.
-On a daily basis?
I have to closely monitor everything I eat, where my food comes from and what food the people around me eat. It’s exhausting.
This is with me for life, so I will always be worrying about food and I don’t even get to eat good food. This also affects people close to me and my loved ones because they have to monitor what they eat too.
-Does it require medication? Does the medication have side effects?
As long as I don’t eat any gluten I’m fine. If I do, there’s no medication, just have to wait for it to pass. Gluten can stay in my system and cause a reaction for as long as several months.
-What is the hardest part of having the condition for you personally?
I can never just relax and enjoy a meal. I’m constantly stressing about it. And if I slip up even for a second I get horrible stomach aches and diarrhea. It’s also fucking annoying that gluten-free is a trendy lifestyle choice for hipsters, while for some people it’s an actual debilitating medical condition.
-How does this condition affect you differently being younger compared to those who are diagnosed when they’re older?
I’ll be dealing with this for my entire life.
-What do you do personally to cope?
I try to experiment with making tasty gluten-free food so I can actually enjoy what I eat sometimes.